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Proposed Lake Erie contract ‘fair’ and ‘competitive’: USS

Keywords: Tags  U.S. Steel, Trevor Harris, Nanticoke, lockout, Bill Ferguson, USW, Local 8782, Catherine Ngai

NEW YORK — U.S. Steel Corp. management in Canada has responded publicly to locked-out United Steelworkers union members outside its Nanticoke, Ontario, operations, saying that its latest labor proposal was fair and competitive.

"U.S. Steel Canada seeks nothing more than a competitive agreement. That was the basis for the fair and balanced final offer that we presented to the union on April 15," Trevor Harris, U.S. Steel Canada’s director of government and public affairs, wrote in an opinion piece published in the Hamilton Spectator. "We did not propose to cut wages or slash benefits. .. Not a single employee would have made one cent less than they are making today as a result of our company’s offer. In fact, most would have received a raise from the revised wage structure that was part of the proposal."

Nearly 1,000 unionized workers at the Pittsburgh-based steelmaker’s Lake Erie Works were locked out April 28 after labor contract negotiations between the two parties failed (, April 29). The previous three-year contract expired April 16.

The union could not be reached for comment, but USW Local 8782 president Bill Ferguson said in a video posted to YouTube two days after the lockout began that the union had fundamental issues with the contract.

"U.S. Steel has come back and told us that you’re not going to lose one penny by voting for that agreement. ... We know that what they offered us is going to cost us money. When they take away your holiday pay, it costs you money. When they take away your (cost of living allowances), it costs you money," he said.

U.S. Steel denied allegations that the proposed contract would cut wages or slash benefits. The company said that "not one employee would have ended up with any fewer days of vacation than they enjoy today."

"The represented employees at Lake Erie Works enjoy some of the highest, if not the highest, wage rates among steel manufacturing workers in North America," Harris said.

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